Proceedings

Benefits of Biowaste Use in Soil Formation

Gibbs, P., Chambers, B., Bhogal, A., and Holmes, S., ADAS Gleadthorpe

(free)

This ongoing study is examining the potential beneficial effects of co-composted green/food
waste and municipal solid waste (MSW) fines (Biowaste) use as an organic amendment in
soil formation, and in the establishment of biomass crops/amenity grassland. Biowaste was
applied at selected rates (in the range 0 to 1,200 t/ha fresh weight) at a quarry site in
Northamptonshire, followed by the establishment of a range of biomass crops (miscanthus,
willow and reed canary grass) or amenity grassland (rye grass). One year after
establishment, a range of soil chemical, biological and physical properties were measured,
and biomass/ryegrass dry matter yields. Significant (P < 0.05) increases in topsoil organic
matter and total nitrogen (N) levels, and extractable nitrate-N, phosphorus, potassium,
magnesium and sulphur concentrations were measured on the Biowaste treatments
compared with the untreated control. Similarly, there were increases (P < 0.05) in microbial
biomass N and respiration rates, and decreases (P < 0.05) in bulk density on the Biowaste
treatments. Overall, the Biowaste additions had measurable and beneficial effects on a large
number of soil (chemical, physical and biological) properties, with significant improvements in
topsoil fertility, aeration and porosity, and ryegrass crop yields.

KEY WORDS
Biowaste, compost, soil formation, soil quality

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